This has been an interesting discussion that has gone to a few different places around the internet. I wanted to point out some of them.
Jordon Cooper: I interact with Bob Hyatt over the topic more.
Bob Hyatt: His Facebook comments where Tony Jones has chimed in.
You may not be able to access that link unless you are friends with Bob or Tony.
“The Last Dying Gasp…”
I recently had the privilege to have an (all be it brief) conversation with Bob Hyatt via Facebook.com. He stated in his update a very intriguing statement.
“I think I heard the final gasp of the emerging church's ability to speak prophetically to the Church today. Shame.” (1)
This was in response to a recent statement made by Tony Jones concerning about monogamous homosexual couples:
“…I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state” (2)
Now to be fair to Tony Jones, I believe he is really trying to work through this issue. I see he has a mixture of personal reasons as well as he is trying to work out theological reasons for his statement. In all I see the dialogue around Tony Jones on this is very refreshing though I do not hold his view point. Also, to be upfront, I am not addressing Tony’s statement at this time as I am holding back my thoughts until Tony can work through this more. I do have a great respect for Tony and believe over all he has some very insightful things to say in the emerging conversation.
Now, Bob Hyatt’s statement intrigued as well as bothered me. Not that I dislike Bob, rather I truly have great respect for him also. We have some theological differences yet over all I see that these are minor as opposed to some that hold his systematic viewpoint. Bob is a very open person to lively diologue and I have enjoyed his thoughts over the brief years I have known him.
The part that intrigued me was that Bob seemed to be saying that part of the history of the emerging church was that it came out of the conservitive evangelical church. I agree that in a fashion this is true. If one reads many of the writers like Tony Jones, Doug Paggit, Dan Kimball and Mark Driscoll they will state it all started with them as they were young pastors involved in Youth Specialties. I do not deny that this is true, rather I see it as short sited in the over all history of the emerging church.
Dan Kimball points out that the term is not new with his friends or him. In a post The Emerging Church circa 1970 Dan points out a book written by Bruce Larson and Ralph Osborne who address the church in the changing times Dan quotes the book:
"When historians of the future look back at the 1970's, they will doubtless see this is an era of chaotic change in the Church, a day of new beginnings, a strange mixture of despair and hope, frustration and boldness. disillusionment and expectancy."
Dan points out that this is very true... he states:
"Over 35 years have past since this was written, and how true those same words can be said of today's church. Chaotic change, new beginnings, frustrations and boldness, disillusionment and expectancy, despair and hope. Culture has changed since then, and quite a significant change in the church has emerged since then."
Yet, what bothers me about Bob’s assertion is that even though, as Dan Kimball points out, the term has been around much longer than Tony Jones or himself, is to me the actual “conversation” has been around before creation. I see that the conversation started with God Himself in Genesis 1:3 as God spoke “Let there be…” and it was. I see that this is the “Logos” of John 1 for the word “logos” means more than just “Word” as it is translated, rather it means a continuous thought in the form of a conversation.
Interestingly a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus who resided in Ephesus taught that logos was “the Word (Logos) as an ordering principle of the world” . (3) To connect the dots for you, John was referring to the same Logos that Heraclitus taught about yet instead of the impersonal “Logos” which was a “principal” John connected this “Logos” with Jesus. John wrote from Ephesus which was the very place Heraclitus was held in high regards.
So we must see that the idea, of this principal or logical order which Heraclitus used the word “Logos” held in its definition much more than “word” as we try to use it today. Further understanding of “logos” is that it is not only this eternal principal that holds all things together, it was also in thought a conversation. (4)
Again, all that is to say I see the emerging conversation is eternal and the very conversation God started in Genesis.
I see that to make the statement as Bob Hyatt stated, “I think I heard the final gasp of the emerging church's ability to speak prophetically to the Church today. Shame.” (1) as missing the big picture.
Now as far as Bob’s thoughts on whether the emerging church was historical conservative, I see his point, yet, I have been a part of the conversation for about 5 years and have seen that there are quite a few that are from the liberal side. So, as far as I am concerned Tony was and is a liberal and nothing has really changed in my mind about him. To be a liberal does not disqualify one’s voice from the conversation. In fact that is the beauty to me of the conversation is that all have a voice and labels do not matter that much.
As far as the other thing that bothered me. Bob spoke of the prophetic voice that now is “gasping”. This bothers me as I see the prophetic as God’s voice and not our own. Tony’s statement may or may not disqualify him as prophetic as it will yet to be seen. Yet, I see that to open the doors of the church to the GLBTQ communities is not a bad thing but a good thing as the Spirit can work in their lives as He does in my own. We must never underestimate the Power of God as He works through His Spirit Who was given to lead us in all Truth.
Again, I see Bob may be just shooting out a momentary reflexive thought. I hope he will unpack his thoughts on this. I see that all this disagreement as a really great thing. I see that it opens the door to healing the divisiveness that has harmed the GLBTQ communities. I pray that this be so. We must remember the emerging conversation is not “just” about us, but about the Kingdom of God. We must not lose sight that we are privileged to be part of the Greater Things of God. As I told Bob in our conversation, “Emerging to me is not a movement or organization. It is growth. Tony is on a journey and came to conclusion that I even disagree with. Yet, again, this is by far not the final gasp... I see it as taking on a new form in a sense... expanding outward as does the Kingdom of God”